Healthy or Nutritious?

BY: Rachel Guerra

DATE: January 26, 2016

A friend and colleague of mine recently posted a link to a Washington Post article entitled: “No food is healthy. Not even kale.” I was excited to see my least favorite leafy green finally getting some bad press. 2015 was a very good year for kale; it seemed like every recipe called for it and every health magazine raved about the benefits of this “superfood.” I, however, am among the seemingly few who are not interested in kale smoothies, salads, chips, juices, or soups.

The author of this article, Michael Ruhlman, maintains that we, as consumers, “allow food companies, advertisers and food researchers to do our thinking for us” regarding what is or is not a healthy food option. Ruhlman proposes the radical idea that perhaps a kale salad is no healthier than a Big Mac with fries. In fact, Ruhlman and Dr. Roxanne Sukol add, no food is healthy per se.

“[Foods] are not healthy; they are nutritious.”

Kale is dense with nutrients, so it is a great food option for people who want to eat a balanced diet. There are probably a number of healthy people who eat kale. However, if a person exclusively ate kale, that person would not be healthy at all. Even “superfoods,” when eaten alone, lack the diversity of nutrients that our bodies require.

Obviously this is not just about kale. It may seem persnickety to worry about the wording, but this small shift could make a big difference in the way we view and choose our foods. Dr. Sukol believes that “[w]ords are the key to giving people the tools they need to figure out what to eat.”

Ruhlman’s suggestion complements the idea that foods cannot be divided into the categories of “good” or “bad.” Food is the fuel for our bodies that we need to stay healthy and energized, and we need a variety of foods to do that successfully.

So, to all of the kale enthusiasts, you can have your kale and eat it too. Just know that it is not healthy; it’s nutritious.